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Studio Session: Arland on creative exploration with 'Islands' and 'Day Breaks'

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Performing as Arland, Southwest Ohio native Gregory Arland Bowers has released two singles so far with more music on the way. Joined by Patrick Himes, Brian Hoeflich and Bryan Lakatos, Arland performed his debut single "Islands" live on Kaleidoscope and spoke with WYSO's Juliet Fromholt about his musical journey so far.

Juliet Fromholt: I know that you are from a musical family in the area. Has playing music always been a part of of who you are and what you wanted to do?

Arland: It really has. Growing up, my sister and I took piano lessons, started guitar lessons. Started writing music myself in high school. So over the last ten, 12, 13 years or so, I've been writing stuff and finally releasing things.

Juliet Fromholt: Was recording always the dream or was that something that you had to kind of work up to?

Arland: Yes, it was always the dream, and some things happened that limited that for a while, and that's what the next stuff is about - yes, a little tease there. But yes, it was always the dream, finally being able to realize it here.

Juliet Fromholt: So what was that like, when you decided to start tackling recording, because "Islands" is big and it's lush and there's a lot happening. Was that kind of sound the vision for your material the whole time, or was that something that as you started to work in the studio and collaborate that came out of your music?

Arland: So I guess it really depends on the song. Each song has some specific sound that really fits the vibe of the song, I guess. And for "Islands," So I wrote this in the beginning of 2021, and the big, the complexity, the extended narrative, all of that was really part of Islands itself. Each song, I guess, has something specific it's going for.

Juliet Fromholt: What was it like getting to collaborate with folks? As a songwriter, when you've been doing it all yourself, is it hard to say, like, 'okay, other people come on, put your hands on it?'

Arland: It's a little bit hard. I'm a single guy. [I] just sit home with a computer writing stuff, come to [Patrick Himes] give him that. He puts his tweaks on it. Brian [Hoeflich] taking the drums as well, putting his tweak on it. So there's a little bit of letting my babies go to let other people put their hands on it. But it's good in the end. It's good to have other voices, other input, other influences, I guess you could say.

Juliet Fromholt: Do you hear the songs differently when you guys are working through them in the studio? Through having these collaborators, you know, draw things out of them, are you hearing different things in your own work?

Arland: Yes, for sure. It's nice to have their take and hear where they can lead my music and how I can take inspiration from that. And for future things, apply that as well.

Juliet Fromholt: So you've got two singles out right now. Is the goal a full album?

Arland: The goal is many, many, many. So right now, literally over the past week or so, Pat has been working with the album planned for end of this year or so. And so that is part of a series of a few things, two albums and "Islands" as well. But we'll leave the full details on that for later. So yeah, those two things planned for this specific narrative element, more things planned in the future for sure.

Juliet Fromholt: And I know that at least for now, you are, by and large, a solo player. Is the goal to maybe eventually, as I've seen many solo players in our community do, start to form a band around this material, and get it out on the road in front of people?

Arland: Definitely. So I have a 9 to 5. It's a little hard to focus exclusively on one thing, and I personally have lots of other creative ideas planned, but yes, the idea is generally to get some kind of band going who can help provide their input on future music as well and help me play live as well.

Juliet Fromholt: You did a music video for 'Islands". Tell me a little bit about that.

Arland: So I had this plan, this narrative I guess, for Islands, one of the multiple narratives, and I thought it fit really well for the music video. And I actually initially had this planned to make it myself in CGI, so really fancy high end stuff. I wound up going with Katie Ann Marks, so I guess Pat is really familiar with and she made a fantastic stop motion video for that. But yeah, the narrative of that video is something I definitely had in mind to tell the story of islands.

Juliet Fromholt: You mentioned you have like other creative pursuits as well. Is that marrying of the visual and the sonic something you want to explore more in the future?

Arland: Definitely. So right now it's mainly the music, but exploring, building into that, I have some specific elements in mind of how I can tie in the music with those other things.

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After joining the WYSO staff in 2009, Juliet developed WYSO’s digital and social media strategy, working closely with her colleagues on daily news coverage. In July 2021, Juliet stepped into a new role, becoming WYSO’s Music Director. An avid music fan and former record store employee, Juliet continues to host her two music shows, Alpha Rhythms and Kaleidoscope, which features studio performances from local musicians every week.